Tag: James Nice

Use Hearing Protection: The FACTORY RECORDS Interview

To celebrate the four decade legacy of Factory Records, Rhino / Warner Music Group have released two lavish boxed sets.

‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ gathers facsimile editions of the first 10 Factory items issued with a catalogue number including the first music releases ‘A Factory Sample’ (Fac 2), ‘All Night Party’ by A CERTAIN RATIO (Fac 5), ‘Electricity’ by OMD (Fac 6) and ‘Unknown Pleasures’ by JOY DIVISION (Fact 10).

Meanwhile, the early history of Factory Records is told in its accompanying 60 page book with text by label historian / biographer James Nice and photos by Kevin Cummins, while presented on DVD is the 8mm short film ‘No City Fun’ (Fac 9) featuring music by JOY DIVISION.

Additional items in ‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ include a white label 12” single by THE TILLER BOYS (originally intended as FAC3 but not released) and a previously unheard audio interview with Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and JOY DIVISION from 1979 conducted by journalist Mary Harron restored across two CDs.

Featuring booklet notes by James Nice and Paul Morley, the second boxed set ‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-92’ is a reissue of the 4CD collection originally released in 2009 featuring JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER, OMD, SECTION 25, JAMES, THE RAILWAY CHILDREN, ELECTRONIC and HAPPY MONDAYS among many as a set of 8 coloured vinyl LPs.

The ‘Use Hearing Protection’ exhibition premiered at London’s Chelsea Space for a limited period in the Autumn featuring the first 50 Factory items, but an expanded version will open in July 2020 at The Science & Industry Museum in Manchester.

James Nice took time out to chat to The Electricity Club about all things Factory…

How important were Factory Records?

That’s a huge question! Can I defer to all 546 pages of my book ‘Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records’, published in 2010? I still maintain that Factory has more influence and cultural capital than any other record label since.

The design sensibility counts for as much as the music, but having said that I’ve played ‘Unknown Pleasures’ many times in 2019, and even with the passage of 40 years it still sounds utterly fresh and contemporary. Hats off to Martin Hannett as well as the band.

Are you happy with how the ‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ box turned out?

Yes, very much so. When WMG asked in 2018 whether there was something we could do to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the label, I suggested a mixed media ‘exhibition in a box’ containing the first 10 numbered artefacts because it seemed like an impossible challenge.

Aside from some complex licensing issues, some of the sleeves are exceptionally hard to reproduce. I don’t think any other label could have realised ‘Use Hearing Protection’, to be honest. At no time did Warners veto any element as being too costly, or object to bonus items such as THE TILLER BOYS 12” or the double CD interview with JOY DIVISION, Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson.

The first Factory Records music release FAC2 ‘A Factory Sample’ had a now iconic sleeve design, what was the process to ensure this reproduction was as close to the original as possible?

That was a significant challenge. The originals were hand-folded, hand-assembled – and even heat-sealed by hand using some sort of contraption no-one could identify 40 years later. The process took Factory several weeks back in 1979. The new edition was produced by a specialist printer in Italy and uses a heavier gauge polythene, but otherwise it’s faithful. Actually that’s not true – we corrected all the spelling errors on the sleeves and posters also. Hopefully that will stop anyone trying to sell these as originals.

Legend has it that the thermographic process used on FAC6 ‘Electricity’ by OMD set the black-on-black sleeve on fire during the original manufacturing run, how was the effect achieved this time round?

Well, that’s what Peter Saville says. The black–on-black design concept of Fac 6 is fantastic, but I think the original thermographed sleeves ended up looking more ‘interesting’ than beautiful. The new version uses embossing and a spot varnish, and actually I think it looks better. That’s just my opinion though. Several classic Factory sleeves are pretty much impossible to replicate exactly now because the old technology is gone.

Fac 6 is one. Another is Fact 14, DURUTTI COLUMN’S first album. No-one makes 12-inch square glasspaper sheets any more. In fact no-one in Europe even makes glasspaper.

There has also been the 40th Anniversary of FAC10 ‘Unknown Pleasures’ by JOY DIVISION recently, is this the key release that allowed Factory Records to become a sustainable entity for the next few years?

Fact 10 was the logical endpoint to the UHP box, for sure. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ sold quite well at the time, although in June 1979 indie distribution was still in its infancy and it took a while to actually recoup. Obviously Ian Curtis died in May 1980, and sales of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER subsequently underwrote Factory for a long time afterwards.

Here’s what Tony Wilson had to say: “It began slowly. We did ‘Unknown Pleasures’, pressed 10,000, sold 5,000 off the back of the truck. The other 5,000 came home to Palatine Road. As soon as you’d got going, suddenly the mood changed, and by the end of ‘79 there was Rough Trade distribution, and that political identity you felt about being an independent label had arrived. But it wasn’t until maybe six months after Unknown Pleasures. By the time you got to ‘Closer’, it was all there.”

What’s inside the 60 page hardback book that is part of the ‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979’ box?

The book is in the style of an exhibition catalogue, so each of the items included – records, posters, films, stationary, egg-timers – is given several pages. The explanatory text for each item take the form of first person quotes from those involved.

I also wrote an introductory essay about the formation of Factory, and there’s also a highly perceptive Melody Maker piece by Mary Harron from 1979 which keys into the interview CDs. All the photos are by Kevin Cummins and provide an acute sense of time and place. It really was a joy to work with Howard Wakefield and Peter Saville on the whole project, and cut the singles at Abbey Road.

‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-1992’ has been reissued as a boxed set of 8 coloured vinyl LPs, what are your favourite five tracks from it and why?

In no particular order: ‘True Faith’ by NEW ORDER, which I think is their best pop song; ‘Mercy Theme (aka Duet)’ by DURUTTI COLUMN, very composed and classical yet warm and emotive; ‘Baader Meinhof’ by CABARET VOLTAIRE, because it still sounds terrifying; ‘Nightshift’ by THE NAMES, dark, understated pop by an underrated band; ‘Flight’ by ACR, thin boys punching above their weight to great effect.

Is there something you feel should have been included on it that isn’t?

ESG; they asked for silly money 10 years ago when the original CD version appeared. I don’t think anyone was very keen to try again this time. It’s a great shame though, as their Factory single is a timeless gem. I love ‘Can’t Afford’ by 52ND STREET too, but there wasn’t space to include it on this comp.

Factory Records were known for their great artwork and sleeves, which were the five that you liked best?

I like pretty much every sleeve design by Peter Saville, 8vo, Martyn Atkins and Mark Farrow. My five favourites are probably ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (Fact 10), the tracing paper sleeve for the first SECTION 25 single (Fac 18), ‘Without Mercy’ by DURUTTI COLUMN (Fact 84), ‘Always Now’ by SECTION 25 (Fact 45) and ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ by New Order (Fact 75). Ben Kelly worked on a couple of excellent Factory sleeves too – Fac 18, and ‘Sextet’ by ACR – as well as The Haçienda.

The ‘Use Hearing Protection FAC 1 – 50 / 40’ exhibition made its debut at Chelsea Space in London, where is it heading next?

It will open in Manchester in 2020, and will be slightly bigger too. I liked the merchandising WMG produced with Saville – the SECTION 25 ‘Always Now’ tea towel in particular.

The ‘Use Hearing Protection’ T-shirts are only available in yellow in childrens’ sizes, I don’t wear T-shirts much but I’d have bought an adult one of those… do you think an opportunity may have been missed there?

Nothing to do with me!

However our ‘Drifting Cowboys’ DURUTTI COLUMN tee doubles as an ‘early’ Factory shirt, and is available in all sizes from Factory Benelux.

Why does Factory Records continue to be of cultural fascination in the 21st Century?

I’m going to be lazy and paraphrase from my text in the UHP book. According to Peter Saville, the remarkable Factory saga is one of the last authentic stories in pop music. “Because for 14 years nobody ever made a decision based on profitability”. Rather, as Saville points out with admirable candour, the equity invested in the company was death.

Firstly that of troubled JOY DIVISION singer Ian Curtis, who took his own life in May 1980, and in ‘Unknown Pleasures’ left behind him perhaps the best debut album of all time. Those record sales underwrote The Haçienda, another astonishing story embracing druggy excess and gangland drama. Ultimately the label collapsed in spectacular style, and Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and Martin Hannett also died far too young. Forget ‘24 Hour Party People’ – the Factory story would make a great longform drama on Netflix or HBO.


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to James Nice

‘Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-79’ and ‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-92’ are released by Rhino / Warner Music Group, available from https://store.rhino.co.uk/uk/factory.html

The next leg of ‘Use Hearing Protection’ exhibition takes place at the Science + Industry Museum in Machester between 3rd July 2020 to 10th January 2021, further information can be found at https://www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/use-hearing-protection

https://www.usehearingprotection.com/

https://www.facebook.com/factorycomms/

https://twitter.com/factory_comms

https://www.instagram.com/factorycomms/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
22nd November 2019, updated 18th January 2020

NEW ORDER Presents Be Music

Despite their success, NEW ORDER still got their hands dirty in helping to produce a number of acts for Factory Records and other associated labels such as Factory Benelux, Les Disques Du Crépuscule and Rob’s Records.

Be Music was the moniker of NEW ORDER’s publishing and eventually used to cover studio production work by all four members of the band. ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ gathers a selection of these varied recordings which involved either Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert or combinations thereof.

It includes electro club tracks released between 1982 and 1985, as well as more recent remixes and productions. This is a lavishly boxed 36 track 3CD affair that documents variations on the NEW ORDER theme before solo projects like ELECTRONIC, REVENGE, THE OTHER TWO and MONACO took over. There’s even the inclusion of the JOY DIVISION era ‘Knew Noise’ by SECTION 25, produced by Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton in 1979 which explores the doomy sub-PiL post-punk style of the period.

Beginning the package on Disc 1, QUANDO QUANGO’s percussive ‘Love Tempo’ sets the scene. Bernard Sumner said: “Producing was a really important sideline, it’s OK doing it because although all the groups are skint, you learn a lot and you’re helping somebody”. Mike Pickering’s pre-M PEOPLE electro-funk outfit certainly groove under Sumner’s guidance and the Anglo-Dutch interpretation of the form sounds accessible but unusual even today. The less immediate ‘Tingle’ is also included on the collection.

Another one of Bernard Sumner’s productions with A CERTAIN RATIO’s Donald Johnson featured the late MARCEL KING, a member of SWEET SENSATION who won ‘New Faces’ and had a No1 in 1974 with ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’; ‘Reach For Love’ couldn’t have been more different. Layered with synths and bassline programming with an infectious machine rhythm, Shaun Ryder remarked that if the song had been released on a label other than Factory, it would have been a hit!

It’s B-side ‘Keep On Dancin’ is also present and comes over as a cooler electrified take on SHALAMAR, while the beefier New York remix of ‘Reach For Love’ by Mark Kamins and Michael H. Brauer is a nice bonus.

While 52ND STREET’s trailblazing ‘Cool As Ice’ was solely produced by Donald Johnson, Sumner contributed the synth basslines programmed using a Moog Source; it was a trademark feature on many of the NEW ORDER frontman’s productions. The hybrid of authentic Manchester soul and New York electro-influences was not surprisingly a cult success across the Atlantic. Indeed, also in the collection is the electro-funk workout of ‘Can’t Afford’, a Stephen Morris production that’s even more New York than Manchester.

Much starker, ‘Looking From A Hilltop’ from Blackpool’s very own post-punk doom merchants SECTION 25 was prompted by founder member Larry Cassidy’s assertion that “you can’t be a punk all your life”. In a move not dissimilar to Gillian Gilbert joining NEW ORDER, Cassidy recruited his wife Jenny and sister Angela to join his brother Vin in the band to realise this game changing manifesto. Produced by Sumner with remix input from Johnson, the collage of clattering drum machine accompanied by ominous synth lines and hypnotic sequenced modulations still sounds magnificent.

Meanwhile, ‘Reflection’ from the parent ‘From The Hip’ long player is a surprise but welcome inclusion to the set.

Almost chirpy when judged against SECTION 25’s earlier output, the tighter sequencing and drum machine programming from Sumner totally transformed the band.

Following along almost similar lines, ‘Fate/Hate’ by Hull combo NYAM NYAM was one of Peter Hook’s Be Music productions and its mighty Moroder-esque template proved that the bass Viking knew his way around the dancefloor despite his more rock inclined sympathies. ‘Fate/Hate’ certainly deserves to be as lauded as ‘Looking From A Hilltop’.

The inclusion of the now rare Bernard Sumner remix of THE BEAT CLUB’s ‘Security’ makes the purchase price alone of ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ worthwhile. This was the first ever release on Rob’s Records, the imprint of the late Rob Gretton, famed manager of NEW ORDER. Sumner’s additional remix and production saw an overhaul of the original version, with the addition of his own crucial vocal contribution giving it an unsurprisingly NEW ORDER-like feel along the lines of a more fully realised ‘State Of The Nation’.

More widely available, the full length version of ‘The Only Truth’ by PAUL HAIG is possibly the best NEW ORDER song that NEW ORDER never recorded. Although Haig demoed the song to an almost complete standard, there is no doubt that the extra bass, percussion and programming laid down by Johnson and Sumner are the necktie to go with Haig’s shirt and suit. The result is a brilliant cross between ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Temptation’, and almost as long!

The Be Music journey moves to Berlin where renowned remixer Mark Reeder made his home in 1978, having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city.

Reeder often sent records to Bernard Sumner from the emerging electronic club scenes and this influenced his whole outlook on music. So a studio union between the pair was inevitable.

This came with Reeder’s band SHARK VEGAS and their 1986 Factory Records release ‘You Hurt Me’. Produced by Sumner and characterised by the type of disco sequence programming that made NEW ORDER famous, in a bizarre way it sounded like a relative of ‘Reach For Love’, the infectious groove offset by Alistair Gray’s dispassionate vocals.

Italian band SURPRIZE’s ‘Over Italia’ was originally part of the ‘In Movimento’ EP issued on Factory Benelux in 1984. Another Dojo / Be Music co-production, the Bologna combo’s ska and dub influences make this track an interesting curio, although there is no real hook within the repetition.

While Disc 1 has more of a bias on Bernard Sumner, Disc 2 on focusses on Stephen Morris. It has to be said, this second instalment of classic and new recordings is more mixed. THICK PIGEON (led by singer Stanton Miranda) and their ‘Babcock + Wilcox’ is a 1984 production by Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert that sort of passes by. However, ‘Bootsy (Swingfire Mix)’ with a remix from THE OTHER TWO is one of A CERTAIN RATIO’s better tracks.

But FACTORY FLOOR’s ‘(Real Love)’ produced by Morris is undoubtedly polarising. Some say it is genius, others a load of repetitive bleeping to an incessant four-to-the-floor beat! ‘Another Hilltop’ though is fabulous, a squiggly reworking by Morris with Bethany Cassidy taking her mother’s role in this update of the SECTION 25 classic; and it wins hands down over FACTORY FLOOR by virtue of being a song.

As the playlist progresses, there’s the treat of a frantic 2011 instrumental from THE OTHER TWO entitled ‘Inside’ which features the KRAFTWERK ‘Uranium’ sample used on ‘Blue Monday’, while ‘The Hunter’ by MARNIE is given a deep metronomic dance reinterpretation.

On FUJIYA & MIYAGI’s ‘Daggers’, as can be expected from the man who wanted to be a drum machine, Stephen Morris’ remix is rhythmically strong while THE OTHER TWO remix of ‘Oh Men’ by TIM BURGESS offers a Germanic flavour and some lovely cascading synth tones. There’s another 9 minutes of FACTORY FLOOR in ‘A Wooden Box’ before the second CD concludes with two takes on LIFE’s ‘Tell Me’, a female vocalled alternative pop number released as FAC106 in 1984.

Disc 3 collects together some assorted band contributions and a number of Peter Hook productions.

Previously known as just ‘Theme’, ‘Lavolta Lakota Theme’ was composed as gig intro music for LAVOLTA LAKOTA and comes over as a menacing drum machine driven cousin of ‘Murder’, layered with timpani samples to aid the apocalyptic drama.

Of STOCKHOLM MONSTERS, the brassy new wave of ‘All At Once’ produced by Hooky is enjoyable but very much of its time.

Led by a vocoder, ROYAL FAMILY & THE POOR’s ‘Motherland’ is pure art angst, while completing a quartet of Hooky helmed studio creations on Disc 3 is AD INFINITUM’s cover of ‘Telstar’. Not exactly the greatest reinterpretation in the world, FAC93 was originally rumoured to be NEW ORDER in disguise and while this curio certainly had a number of distinct elements like Hooky’s bass and an Oberheim DMX, the exercise was actually a project fronted by Lindsay Reade, the former Mrs Tony Wilson. But her intended new original lyrics for ‘Telstar’ were vetoed by The Joe Meek Estate, so a version with more abstract vocals was released instead.

Not a NEW ORDER production but featuring percussive assistance from Stephen Morris, ‘Theoretical China’ by TUXEDOMOON’s Winston Tong had an all-star cast including ex-PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED bassist Jah Wobble and MAGAZINE’s Dave Formula who also co-produced with ASSOCIATES’ Alan Rankine. Tong later recorded some more fully realised material for his excellent ‘Theoretically Chinese’ album, but this neo-title song is a good introduction to his electropop phase.

One nice surprise is RED TURNS TO ‘Deep Sleep’; produced by Stephen Morris, the song originally released as FAC 116 still sounds fresh and has dated better than a number of the offerings at the beginning of Disc 3.

With sequence programming by Sumner, ‘Sakura’ documents SECTION 25 entering the electronic world in 1982. Around this time, NEW ORDER went the full sequencer route having previously triggered synthetic pulses on ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ and ‘Temptation’.

The end result was the 20 minute ‘Video 5-8-6’, constructed using a home built a Powertran 1024 Sequencer to control a Powertran Transcendent 2000 synth while clocked off a Clef Master Rhythm.

An ominous sign of the future, it was the first NEW ORDER recording not to feature Peter Hook but ultimately lay the blueprint for ‘Blue Monday’ and more…

Whether you are a fan of NEW ORDER and the legend of Factory Records or would like to discover some lesser known but brilliant electronic pop jewels, this terrific collection is a must.

Accompanied by comprehensive, well-researched liner notes from the ever reliable James Nice that include a quote from The Electricity Club’s 2011 interview with Stephen Morris, there really is something for everyone in this vast set documenting an adventurous period in music.


With thanks to James Nice at Factory Benelux

‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ is available as a 36 track 3CD boxed set or 12 track double gatefold vinyl

http://www.factorybenelux.com/new_order_presents_be_music_fbn60.html

http://www.neworder.com/

http://peterhook.get-ctrl.com/#/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th February 2017

TEC004 featuring MARSHEAUX, KID KASIO + RODNEY CROMWELL

tec004-johnnewstead-005Following the very successful TEC003 event in 2014 with VILE ELECTRODES, SPEAK & SPELL plus guests including Mark Reeder and Sarah Blackwood, as well as a DEPECHE MODE memorabilia exhibition by Deb Danahay, The Electricity Club went back on the road.

Their latest event TEC004 graced the beautiful Norfolk city of Norwich at Epic Studios.

The day was kicked off by a marvellous memorabilia exhibition of items from the Synth Britannia era. Deb Danahay’s collection mainly depicted the early years of DEPECHE MODE circa 1981. Deb shared her very first DM fan club information sheets, photos, backstage passes, newspaper cuttings as well as YAZOO fan club photos, backstage passes and personal notes. Meanwhile, one of the UK’s most devoted fans of DEPECHE MODE, Michael Rose treated eager observers to some excellent pieces of rare memorabilia.

tec004-johnnewstead-031These included tour programmes from the ‘Some Great Reward’, ‘Music For The Masses’ and ‘Violator’ eras. There were the Bong fan club publications as well, plus letters and assorted promo photographs.

And there was the famous jacket Dave Gahan wore on the iconic ‘The World We Live In and Live In Hamburg’ video of nearly from the 1984 ‘Some Great Reward’ Tour, and also the first video release by the band.

Stephen Roper provided his keepsakes relating to GARY NUMAN. He collated a book about the Numan’s imperial era entitled ‘Back Stage-A Book Of Reflections’, which featured contributions from the man himself. More recently, Roper has ventured into gig promotion, hosting a successful live appearance by former KRAFTWERK member WOLFGANG FLÜR and joined forces with The Electricity Club to present TEC004.

The Electricity Club’s own Paul Boddy, who also doubles as one quarter of the modern SPEAK & SPELL’s set up, kicked the “music bit” off with a fabulous DJ Set, containing the likes of ERASURE, FAD GADGET, DEPECHE MODE, THOMAS DOLBY, JOHN FOXX, LADYTRON and BATTLE TAPES.

tec004-simon-watson-029The happy crowd milling around the venue consisted of diehard fans of electronica, studded with the likes of Sarah Blackwood ex-CLIENT and DUBSTAR, Anais Neon and Martin Swan from VILE ELECTRODES and George Geranios of Undo Records. Also along for the fun were Keith Trigwell of SPEAK & SPELL, Simon Helm of Nordic friendly music blog Cold War Night Life plus radio DJs Rob Green and Chris Watts.

The compère for the evening was the lovely Caroline Rose, who was probably the only person in The Electricity Club’s circle who could pronounce “Les Disques du Crépuscule” and managed to get the audience properly geared up for the evening’s festivities as well as provided interesting info on the night’s acts.

tec004-johnnewstead-027TEC004’s guest DJ James Nice graced the gathering with a variety of new and vintage tunes.

He recently resurrected the prestigious Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule and its sister Factory Benelux offshoot, as platforms to issue a plethora of archive and experimental material, as well as releasing new music by MARNIE, MARSHEAUX, DEUX FILLES and LES PANTIES.

Nice, who is a music publisher and writer, with an accomplished 2010 book ‘Shadowplayers: The Rise And Fall Of Factory Records’, now looks after both labels, curating its heritage as well as taking care of new acts.

The sleeve notes for these releases are written by the man himself, but as he told TEC in his recent interview: “My notes tend to be honest rather than gushing or pseudo-academic, and that’s probably why I rarely get commissioned to write liner notes for other releases!”

tec004-johnnewstead-014In front of a TEC004 audience that had gathered from as far as Switzerland, Holland, Ireland, Liverpool and London, RODNEY CROMWELL took to the stage first. Led by Adam Cresswell, his short but sweet set of tunes including ‘Baby Robot’ and ‘Black Dog’ from debut long player ‘Age Of Anxiety’, chronicled his own personal problems with depression. There was also the terrific bonus of his older ARTHUR & MARTHA track ‘Autovia’ featuring bandmate Alice Hubley on lead vocals.

He was pleased with the early crowd turnout as he had told TEC earlier this year: “I think it’s harder to get gigs now… maybe that’s because electronic music’s not as fashionable, because back in the mid-noughties, it was on the back of Electroclash and that hipster thing!”. Well, it was a very successful set too and he managed it without blowing up one of his Korgs, like he had done at the warm-up gig in London the day before!

tec004-johnnewstead-008The golden boy of 2016, Nathan Cooper aka KID KASIO showcased his talents next during a lively 40 minute set. Cooper has had a successful couple of years, releasing his stunning retro-inspired album ‘Sit and Wait’ with such gems as ‘Full Moon Blue’ and ‘The Kodo Song’, which were both performed to a rather appreciative audience.

tec004-johnnewstead-007Previously of THE MODERN and MATINEE CLUB, Cooper has been involved in electronic music for years and worked with all the big names like Stephen Hague.

Most recently, he opened a fabulous recording studio Fiction Studios in London, together with his oh-so-famous actor brother Dominic. Cooper managed to pick up a parking fine during rehearsals, so he amusingly pleaded to the audience to buy at least six CDs to cover his loses!

His set went down tremendously well; with massively upbeat and entertaining tracks like ‘The Story Of Kid Charlemagne’ and the über fast ‘The End’, the crowd did not want to let KID KASIO off stage.

tec004-johnnewstead-006KID KASIO certainly prepared the audience for Greek Goddesses MARSHEAUX, whose hour-long set was simply stunning. The duo are soon to play at the first African electronic music festival in Senegal and kicked off with tunes from their latest acclaimed album ‘Ath.Lon’, accompanied by arty background projections.

But the big hits like ‘Breakthrough’ from ‘Lumineux Noir’ were also included and inevitably got the audience pumping.

Apart from being pleasing to the eye, Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou also know how to get the crowd going and a few certainly got involved in a very articulated manner. The audience were dancing and singing to the brilliant ‘Inhale’ and the mood continued with DEPECHE MODE’s ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’. With exquisite harmonies brought by the girls, a few people in the audience actually said they preferred MARSHEAUX’s cover album of ‘A Broken Frame’ to the original.

tec004-simon-watson-006After the show to an advanced preview of The Electricity Club’s upcoming modern synthpop compilation to be released on Undo Records, many rushed to purchase ‘Ath.Lon’ with its stunning sleeve, dutifully signed by the duo. The demand was such that certain items on the merchandise stand flew out so fast, that a few missed out on goodies such as the lush luminous sleeved ‘Ghost’ 7 inch vinyl.

At TEC004, the happy crowd was entertained and everybody was having a great time. Now, this is what happens when electronic music events are curated by electronic music enthusiasts.


TEC004 DJ sets

tec004-johnnewstead-022James Nice – Les Disques du Crépuscule

MIKADO ‘Par Hasard’
HARD CORPS ‘Porte de Bonheur’
TELEX ‘Moskow Diskow’
CRYSTAL CASTLES ‘Intimate’
VITALIC ‘Flashmob’
GRACE JONES ‘She’s Lost Control’
KAS PRODUCT ‘So Young But So Cold’
FACTORY FLOOR ‘Fall Back’
SPARKS ‘Tryouts For The Human Race’


tec004-johnnewstead-012Paul Boddy – The Electricity Club

6/8 Set #1
MESH ‘Born To Lie’
DEPECHE MODE ‘Personal Jesus [Alex Metric remix]’
THE HUMAN LEAGUE ‘Empire State Human [Chamber’s Reproduced remix]’
OMD ‘Sailing On The Seven Seas [Larrabee mix]’
GOLDFRAPP ‘Beautiful’
ERASURE ‘Love Is A Loser’
FAD GADGET ‘Swallow It’
SOFT CELL ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’

4/4 Set #2
tec004-simon-watson-012HARD CORPS ‘Je Suis Passé’
DIE KRUPPS ‘Der Amboss’
KIM WILDE ‘Cambodia [EMP re-edit]’
YAZOO ‘Goodbye 70s’
TORUL ‘Mad World [Rob Dust remix]’
GIORGIO MORODER ‘The Chase [Jaia Express remix]’
DONNA SUMMER ‘I Feel Love [Afrojack remix]’


‘The Electricity Club’ preview

tec004-simon-watson-009SIN COS TAN ‘Trust’
POLLY SCATTERGOOD ‘Other Too Endless (Vince Clarke remix)’
TENEK ‘What Do You Want? (Alternate TEC version)’
ANALOG ANGEL ‘We Won’t Walk Away’
ARTHUR & MARTHA ‘Autovia’
MARSHEAUX ‘Suffer The Children’
SECTION 25 ‘My Outrage’
047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN ‘Everything’s Fine’
tec004-simon-watson-015TAXX ‘Is it Love?’
LIEBE ‘I Believe In You’
QUIETER THAN SPIDERS ‘Shanghai Metro’
iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR ‘Activity Of Sound’
TWINS NATALIA ‘Destiny’
MESH ‘Tuesday’
MIRRORS ‘Between Four Walls’


tec004-simon-watson-001The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to all the bands, DJs, venue crew, team, helpers and attendees who made TEC004 such a great success

http://www.marsheaux.com/

http://www.kidkasio.com

http://www.happyrobots.co.uk/

tec004-johnnewstead-013http://www.lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/

http://factorybenelux.com/

https://soundcloud.com/paul-boddy-emp-remixes

http://www.epic-tv.com/

http://www.johnnewstead.co.uk/

http://simonwatson-photography.co.uk/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photos by John Newstead and Simon Watson
12th November 2016

Twilight Time: An Interview with JAMES NICE

JamesNice-byPeter StaessensJames Nice is a music publisher and writer whose acclaimed 2010 book ‘Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records’ provided a detailed and objective account of the legendary label. He also worked for the prestigious Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule in Brussels between 1987-91.

More recently, James has resurrected Les Disques du Crépuscule along with its sister Factory Benelux offshoot as platforms to reissue a vast catalogue of experimental and artistically driven music, in addition to releasing newer material from acts such as MARSHEAUX, MARNIE and DEUX FILLES. Back in the day, Les Disques du Crépuscule and Factory Benelux operated as separate entities, although the two labels shared the same premises and staff.

Among Crépuscule’s roster were Blaine L Reininger and Winston Tong from TUXEDOMOON, ASSOCIATES instrumentalist Alan Rankine and former JOSEF K leader Paul Haig. The first music release on Crépuscule came in 1980; ‘From Brussels With Love’ was a carefully curated cassette compilation which included music from John Foxx, Bill Nelson, Harold Budd and Thomas Dolby as well as spoken recordings by Brian Eno and Richard Jobson.

everything's gone green new order FBN12Meanwhile Factory Benelux notably released the 12 inch extended remix of NEW ORDER’s ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ in 1981 and spare recordings from Factory affiliated artists such as A CERTAIN RATIO, SECTION 25, THE WAKE and THE DURUTTI COLUMN.

The latter’s beautiful instrumental ‘For Belgian Friends’ was written in honour of the two labels’ founders Michel Duval and the late Annik Honoré. James Nice kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about his various endeavours, past and present.

You wrote the book ‘Shadowplayers’ on the history of Factory Records. There have been several books about the label, what do you think your account gave that hadn’t been provided before?

Well, reliable facts properly researched! I did ‘Shadowplayers’ as a DVD first, in 2006, but I didn’t do the book until after Tony Wilson passed away the following year.

shadowplayers_book_french_edition_450One of the books which influenced the approach I took was an excellent Creation Records history by Dave Cavanagh, which Alan McGee slated as the accountant’s version of Creation when it first appeared (though he changed his mind later).

I feared Tony might say the same thing about a Factory history written by me. He was more into myths and legends than truth.

I also wanted to include all the bands and artists, not just JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER, HAPPY MONDAYS and The Hacienda; THE STOCKHOM MONSTERS have a tale to tell too. The French edition won a prize, actually. They sent me a leather jacket – which was a bit too small.

How do you see the public’s continued fascination with Factory Records?

I just glance at it in passing these days, because ‘Shadowplayers’ came out in 2010 and I’ve long since moved on. The entire story of Factory was hugely dramatic, genuine tragic in places, and populated by larger than life characters. You can’t really say the same of, for example, 4AD or Domino. I’m not sure you’ll see it repeated either, because music no longer produces the kind of revenue stream that would allow radical mavericks like Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton to build another Hacienda, and Peter Saville is a complete one-off.

Factory was a classic example of do the right thing, and the money will follow. Unfortunately, they then blew all the money on big recording projects and ill-judged property investments. Let’s leave it at that.

from brussels with loveFactory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule have common roots, but were quite different entities in their original ethos?

Both labels started in 1980. Factory Benelux was intended as an outlet for spare Factory recordings, hence a lot of the early releases like ‘Shack Up’ by ACR, ‘The Plateau Phase’ by CRISPY AMBULANCE and ‘Key of Dreams’ by SECTION 25 were exclusive to FBN. As time went on it became more like a normal licensee.

Crépuscule was something else entirely – a cosmopolitan boutique label, with an international roster and aspirations to kick start some kind of art movement in Brussels. In truth Factory were a little suspicious of Crepuscule early on, although later some Crépuscule albums appeared on Factory in the UK eg Anna Domino and Wim Mertens.

You worked for Les Disques du Crépuscule back in the day and lived in Brussels for five years. What are your particular memories of that time?

Way too many to mention. A couple of days after I quit Crépuscule (an argument about a 23 SKIDOO contract, not that anyone will be interested), I took a train to Amsterdam to meet William S. Burroughs.

He was holding court in a hotel with his manager, James Grauerholz. I took along some books to sign, as well as the Burroughs album I’d released on LTM, ‘The Doctor Is On the Market’. I don’t think WSB had even seen a copy before, but he scribbled “Good Work” on it. There was another guy there who was a Lufthansa pilot by day and wrote experimental cut-up novels in his spare time. I remember thinking at the time, I’d like to be that guy.

What are the aims of Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule under your direction now?

Heritage curation, and new recordings where appropriate. Michel Duval is quite interested again, and we collaborated on the ‘Ni D’Eve, Ni D’Adam’ compilation at the end of 2015.

I really enjoyed that process, as a matter of fact. The new tracks and artists he brought to the project really added to it, and the artwork by Clou was great too.

I do a lot of boring back office stuff as well as making records, chiefly rights administration. You have to have all your ducks in a row when, for instance, Kanye West decides to sample a SECTION 25 track from 1981.

As well as reissues, Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule have released new albums by SECTION 25, MARNIE, DEUX FILLES and others. What attracted you to back these recordings?

In the case of new albums by heritage groups like SECTION 25, THE NAMES and CRISPY AMBULANCE, as long as fresh studio projects are financially viable, and the music is good, then of course we want to be involved. Any label can simply recycle back catalogue, but I like to think we’re a little more committed.

The MARNIE album came to Crépuscule because I’m a LADYTRON fan and it was a perfect fit for the label. It worked for her too as she’d successfully funded ‘Crystal World’ via Pledge Music, but was less sure about how to actually deliver the CD version.

It’s important to back new music, and I’m delighted to be releasing ‘Cold Science’ by LES PANTIES later in 2016. They’re a young band from Brussels – terrible name, but great music!

MARSHEAUX-twi1151cdLes Disques du Crépuscule also released ‘Odyssey’ in 2014, a career spanning compilation of MARSHEAUX. What do you find appealing about their music and which are your favourite songs?

I liked MARSHEAUX anyway, even before we began Crépuscule again back in 2013. Like MARNIE, they seemed like a good fit with the label’s heritage, much of which was modern electronic pop music. The focus was on original songs though rather than covers.

The title is a riff on Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, and the idea of a chronological story, and of course the old ARP Odyssey analogue synth. I’m quite good at coming up with album titles, if I say so myself. ‘Retrofit’ by SECTION 25 is probably the best – it popped into my head while I was watching a documentary about the making of ‘Blade Runner’. Perfect for a remix / reboot album.

Yes, very clever of you. But what’s your favourite MARSHEAUX song?

Well, the ‘Ghost/Hammer’ mash-up is the one we keep putting on LDDC compilations.

You maintain a close relationship with Paul Haig. Is he one of the unsung heroes of post-punk in your opinion?

I wouldn’t say unsung because Paul’s always attracted a lot of press and remains well liked by music writers, but I suppose he’s ‘unsung’ in the sense that he never had a proper chart hit. Ironically, his most popular album – on reissue anyway – is ‘Rhythm of Life’, which was considered far too mainstream at the time.

Paul Haig RoLPaul just did things his way and wasn’t prepared to jump through all the hoops required of a mainstream pop star. For a start he was – and remains – far too shy.

Since you mention post-punk in the question, I’ll take this opportunity to plug a forthcoming Paul project for later in 2016, which is a 1982-based double archive CD including his early pop material (‘Justice’, ‘Running Away’), the Sinatra-styled ‘Swing In 82’ EP, the experimental electronica cassette ‘Drama’, and loads of odd singles and sessions.

He’d just left JOSEF K but had not yet signed to Island, and I’m not sure anyone else was quite that diverse and experimental at the time. It’ll be called ‘Metamorphosis’ – another Kafka reference. Told you I was clever with titles. Paul’s quite nervous about it, I have to say!

You’ve also worked closely with Alan Rankine in his post-ASSOCIATES career?

Well, not so much me personally. Back in the 1980s, Alan was married to Belinda Pearse, who was a Crépuscule director at the time, and so for a while he pretty much became the in-house producer at the label, working with Paul Haig, Anna Domino, Winston Tong, Ludus and his own solo material.

My time at LDDC in Brussels did overlap with his, but I didn’t work on any of those projects. He did three solo albums under the auspices of Crépuscule, and some of the music is the equal of anything he did with Billy Mackenzie. Unfortunately Alan isn’t quite as good a singer, though he is a brilliant writer, arranger, producer, guitarist and keys player. The instrumentals he did for Crépuscule work best, I think. We’ve spoken a couple of times this year. Once was to return some master tapes to him, and I also suggested him as a producer / collaborator for MARNIE.

FBN112CD_12pp_bookletAnother unsung hero of the era is Mark Reeder and the release of his remix collection ‘Collaborator’ on Factory Benelux was a fitting acknowledgement of that. What was the process like to select the tracklisting?

Hmm. We tried to avoid replicating too many tracks that were on the earlier ‘Five Point One’ collection, and having Bernard Sumner singing on quite a few of the tracks should have made it seem more like an artist album than just a compilation.

Not sure the concept really gelled though. Mark isn’t easy to label – a lot of people think he’s a DJ, which is the one thing he isn’t (but probably should be). ‘Collaborator’ is a great album and should have sold a lot more than it did. In fact Mark regularly reminds me of that!

As a label manager, how do you decide on the formats that releases will be issued in? When do you know one format will be more viable than another, eg some are CD only, others are vinyl only?

Vinyl tends to be reserved for prestige items, and / or where you can fashion an art object from it, like THE DURUTTI COLUMN album with the die-cut glasspaper sleeve, which I’ll talk about later.

JOSEF K It's Kinda FunnyThe recent JOSEF K singles collection ‘It’s Kinda Funny’ was vinyl only because there have been several JOSEF K CD compilations already, and because a 12” matt board sleeve was a great way of exhibiting the original artwork by Jean-François Octave.

I still prefer CDs because the sound is better, you can fit more material on them, plus they are easier to keep in print over a long period of time. In an era of declining physical sales, the increasing fragmentation of formats isn’t too helpful, at least as far as labels are concerned.

Vinyl retains cultural clout though. Releasing albums used to be like publishing books, whereas once the market became saturated with releases, it’s kind of become degraded and often feels as if you’re just publishing magazine articles. But a vinyl album still has the heft of a book.

Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule were both known for tasteful artwork and you have maintained this aesthetic. The vinyl reissue of ‘The Return Of The Durutti Column’ had an interesting genesis?

FACT14With the Benelux reissue in 2013, the original intention was to replicate Fact 14 from 1980, with coarse sandpaper front and back and a flexi-disc.

Back then Tony Wilson was able to source 12-inch square sheets from a local company called Naylors Abrasives in Bredbury, near Stockport. They still exist, but they don’t manufacture sandpaper any more, and when I got in touch in 2012 to explain the project, they clearly thought I was a lunatic.

I’m not sure that glasspaper is even manufactured anywhere in Western Europe now. In the end we had to go to a company in China, whose minimum order was 10,000 sheets. What was a cheap and (relatively) easy package for Factory in 1980 turned out to be pretty much impossible to copy three decades later. It’s probably easier to source glasspaper in lurid colours rather than plain old beige, and the biggest rolls were only 11 inches wide. You can still source flexi-discs from one plant in the States, but they end up costing more per unit than a 12-inch vinyl album. Fortunately, however, not being able to do a straight copy served to liberate the project somewhat, so that we began to think in terms of a new edition which referenced the original, but offered something different.

The flexi became a hard vinyl 7”, which sounds far better, and we were now able to add an inner sleeve with period images and explanatory text. The 11-inch glasspaper squares took about eight months to arrive from China, and while we were twiddling our thumbs the designer, Carl Glover, came up with the idea of seating the glasspaper sheet on the front in a recessed deboss. A bit like a frame, thereby underlining the ‘art’ credentials.

The Return Of The Durutti Column

Somewhat to my surprise the pressing plant in Germany agreed to assemble the finished package from start to finish, which was fortunate since I couldn’t imagine NEW ORDER agreeing to help out. I didn’t much fancy the idea of doing it myself. Like the building trade people we had to go through en route to China, the pressing plant just couldn’t understand why we’d want to release a record in a glasspaper sleeve. Someone suggested a photo of some sandpaper might be better…

Then, when the sheets finally arrived, some of the cutting was pretty rough, and the pressing plant insisted on a 3mm tolerance between each side of the sheet and the deboss. That would just look as though we’d fluffed the measurements, besides which even with a deboss, the glasspaper sheets simply stuck on the cover just didn’t have that ‘wow’ factor.

I spent a few days arguing with the plant about tolerances, and agonising generally, then decided that a die-cut would be just as impressive, with the glasspaper underneath, as if you were seeking it through a window. This scheme also overcame the issues about imperfect size and cutting of the glasspaper.

fbn114insituThe only obvious, practical shape for the die-cut was Peter Saville’s original ‘bar chart’ logo, which appeared on the labels of most Factory releases between 1979 and 1980, Fact 14 included. It just looks right, and is also suggestive of a graphic equalizer, which I suppose is a bit Hannett. The pressing plant had already printed 2000 copies of the original inner bag though, so we had to throw those away. All the problems and changes also mean that the release date was late. Very Factory, I suppose.

The finished package looked even better than anyone dared to imagine, and housed in the polythene bag it has a fantastic 3D quality, plus the glasspaper catches the light beautifully. I was particularly delighted that Vini Reilly liked it. All the various headaches and reverses improved the design no end, and the addition of the die-cut means that you now have this unique Reid/Saville hybrid. Truly a happy accident.

LesDisquesduCrepuscule+FactoryBenelux logosYour CD reissues on Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule are known for their comprehensive sleeve notes which are written by you. What is your philosophy and style regarding this?

I tend to focus on facts, and direct quotation from the people involved.

Creative writing I leave to experts like Paul Morley, Simon Reynolds and Kevin Pierce. My notes tend to be honest rather than gushing or pseudo-academic, and that’s probably why I rarely get commissioned to write liner notes for other releases! I think the last time was an ELECTRONIC retrospective. Johnny Marr just wanted a hagiography in which everything and everyone was, like, amazing and brilliant, all the time. Buyers aren’t stupid and don’t really want that. Then again, I probably have been a bit too glass half empty at times.

What are your thoughts on modern music, particularly the synthpop and electronic variety, having worked with a number of the original pioneers?

I really like EDM, it’s probably my favourite genre for blasting out loud in the car, annoying my daughter etc; RIHANNA, MISS KITTIN, TODD TERJE, electroclash, Xenomania productions.

A lot of what Crépuscule released during the golden years – the 80s, basically – was either very poppy (Paul Haig, Anna Domino, Isabelle Antena, Kid Montana), or pretty abstract (Wim Mertens, Glenn Branca, Gavin Bryars). That’s probably why my taste in music remains similarly schizophrenic.

If you’re asking who my current / recent favourites are then its TEGAN & SARA, ROBYN, M83, some NINE INCH NAILS, and the last NEW ORDER album. That was a spectacular return to form. Hats off to them, and to Mute.

Which have been your favourite reissues or products on Les Disques du Crépuscule and Factory Benelux over the years?

I can answer that in a heartbeat. My all-time favourite LDDC album is ‘Night Air’ by Blaine L Reininger, which came out in 1984 and was his first proper solo album during the time he was absent from TUXEDOMOON.

Blaine L Reininger Night AirIt’s a magical album about exile in Brussels and was a key influence on my relocating to the city a couple of years later. Expertly recorded and engineered by Gareth Jones, I might add. I’d love him to tour the whole album – maybe there will be an opportunity after TUXEDOMOON are done touring ‘Half Mute’ during 2016.

My favourite FBN reissues would be the glasspaper Durutti, or the pochette 2xCD edition of ‘Always Now’ by SECTION 25. Both presented considerable challenges, and both came off.

Are there any upcoming releases on Factory Benelux or Les Disques du Crépuscule you can tell us about?

I’ve been talking to a group from Brussels called LES PANTIES for a couple of years. I love their music – poised, sophisticated cold wave, with a hint of shoegaze – they have a great aesthetic sense, and Sophie Frison is an excellent singer. We just couldn’t agree about the name though. It might work in a French speaking country, but elsewhere it sounds like a novelty band. Eventually I just gave in and collected all their singles on an album, ‘Cold Science’, which is coming out on Crépuscule in September. It’s a bit of a passion project for me, I suppose. But it’s also one in the eye for people who carp we do nothing but reissues.


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to James Nice

http://lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/

http://factorybenelux.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Portrait photo by Peter Staessens
28th May 2016, updated 5th February 2017

MARSHEAUX Discuss Their Odyssey

MARSHEAUX-queensOdysseus was the legendary Greek king who took 10 eventful years to return home after the Trojan War in which he used his infamous Trojan Horse ploy to capture the city of Troy.

Appropriately, MARSHEAUX’s brand new compilation ‘Odyssey’ traces the journey of the Athens based synth maidens from 2004 to the present day through their albums ‘E-Bay Queen’, ‘Peek-A-Boo’ and ‘Lumineux Noir’ to last year’s ‘Inhale’.

Released on the prestigious Les Disques Du Crépuscule label and compiled by former employee James Nice, ‘Odyssey’ also includes a previously unissued song ‘Full Attack’ and the standalone single ‘Ghost’.

The collection acts as a coherent listening experience showcasing their “wispy, melancholic charm…” as was once described by OMD’s Andy McCluskey. The lush packaging also presents MARSHEAUX in a more pictorial manner than previously.

Meanwhile the tracklisting gives an opportunity for the curious but cautious synthpop enthusiast to sample the duo in one thoughtfully menued sitting. While several key tracks such as ‘Radial Emotion’ and ‘Breakthrough’ are absent, what ‘Odyssey’ does do, like any good compilation, is to provoke curiosity and further investigation.

marsheaux6Originally from Thessaloniki, Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou moved to Athens and came together to further their appreciation of electronic pop music.

Their irresistible mix of classic pop hooks and digi-analogue synthesis has seen MARSHEAUX stretch their sophisticated appeal across the world. They have played prestigious support slots for OMD, ROISIN MURPHY, CLIENT and even LA rockers 30 SECONDS TO MARS… the latter’s frontman Jared Leto is a big fan of the girls!

As well as recording original material, MARSHEAUX have done numerous cover versions and remixed for other artists including DEPECHE MODE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, MOBY, KATY PERRY, MYLÈNE FARMER and ANDY BELL. In a busy few months for Sophie and Marianthi, there has also been two new MARSHEAUX vocalled tracks ‘Big Black Hole’ and ‘Close To Me’ included on their producers FOTONOVELA’s second album ‘A Ton Of Love’.

With dreams of a disco, the girls kindly spoke to The Electricity Club about their own 10 year ‘Odyssey’…

How did Les Disques Du Crépuscule come to be involved in releasing a MARSHEAUX ‘best of’?

MARSHEAUX-twi1151cdJames Nice from Les Disques Du Crépuscule contacted Undo Records in Greece, because he was interested in releasing some of our songs in a compilation.

We felt really honoured, because Les Disques Du Crépuscule is a very classy label that we really admire. They had artists like PAUL HAIG, PALE FOUNTAINS, Alan Rankine from ASSOCIATES, BLAINE L REININGER, TUXEDOMOON and they also had just released MARNIE’s debut album. We are really excited with the idea of being on the roster.

Apart from ‘Popcorn’, ‘Odyssey’ stays largely clear of your cover versions?

Maybe it’s better this way. We always loved doing cover versions of other artists, but we never thought of having a career out of it. If we had chosen the tracklist, then maybe we would have picked WHEN IN ROME’s ‘The Promise’ instead of ‘Popcorn’. On the other hand ‘Popcorn’ is our first ever recorded track and this is enough to make it into ‘Odyssey’.

Your first album ‘E-Bay Queen’ was in 2004, how do you look back on the making of it?

When we first started MARSHEAUX, we always thought that we would sound like ERASURE or YAZOO melodically, we would be romantic like OMD, have the aesthetics like PET SHOP BOYS and be clever like SPARKS.

‘E-Bay Queen’ was literally made in 7 days, all of it… recordings, designs, marketing! We just had started to get used to our 2-3 instruments we had just bought… LFOs, filters, oscillators. It was a whole new world for us. We still remember the first time we managed to trigger correctly the TR606 with the SH101’s arpegiator and then the TR707 with our Juno.

Of course we’d written 11-12 tracks for the album but the demos were really bad, even as demos! We had the voice melody and when the body of the tracks was ready, with the help of the guys of FOTONOVELA we finished the album in seven days. Now our record company wants to release all that demo stuff, but we are too embarrassed.

‘Computer Love’ is still a part of your live set. Why does that one still hold so much affection after 10 years?

We adore this track. It’s mood fixing. It’s so naive that you get instantly hooked by it. We love the female voice through vocoder. This is our answer to KRAFTWERK and still a great track till today.

By 2007 with ‘Peek-A-Boo’, you had made a big leap artistically. What happened to make your sound to become more fully realised?

All the money we earned from ‘E-Bay Queen’ we put it on ‘Peek-A-Boo’. We wanted it to sound completely different. We knew that creating our second album would be the hardest thing.

We decided, not to have many live appearances, not too many pictures taken and not to appear in clips. Instead we tried to make everything artier and give all our energy to the music and the artwork.

We bought new instruments and we spent all our time to learn how they worked. We made the album in one year and a half, not in seven days like the previous one. We had tons of appointments with our graphic designers ’til we came up with the purple paper bag and the ghost design. The entire project was under a plan. It finally worked once ‘Peek-A-Boo’ came out in the international market through Out Of Line. Each one who bought the CD wore the bag on the head, took pictures and sent them to us. We gathered roughly 3,500 pictures. The ‘Peek-A-Boo’ bag was pictured from Lapland with skis, to Johan Cruyff’s head in the Barcelona museum.

How did you write ‘Dream Of A Disco’… did you intentionally set out to base it around ‘Space Age Love Song’?

Of course not, it just happened in the studio while we were trying to make some mash-ups for a DJ set, we got hooked with it. There was a drum pattern, the theme of ‘Space Age Love Song’ and on it, we sang whatever. ‘Dream Of A Disco’ was ready after a week. The feedback was great. No-one wrote that we stole a song in order to make another one.

It’s great to see ‘Wait No More’ on ‘Odyssey’, I think it’s one of your most under rated songs…

We agree 100%. We wanted it as a single but Out Of Line was totally against it and pushed ‘What A Lovely Surprise’ on the radio instead. If we had to compile a MARSHEAUX ‘Best Of…’, ‘Wait No More’ would be in it. In general the ‘Peek-A-Boo’ sessions were melancholic and romantic, a thing you won’t find in the other of our albums.

MARSHEAUX23Of course, many see ‘Lumineux Noir’ as your crowning achievement? 

The reviews for ‘Lumineux Noir’ were excellent. We honestly didn’t expect it, as the album was quite darker than the previous ones without losing its pop style. The success of ‘Peek-A-Boo’ took us to the next level. We gained confidence, no insecurities for anything. When we sent ‘Lumineux Noir’ to Undo and Out Of Line, we told them that it’s finished and that’s it. We didn’t change anything, unlike other times.

‘Sorrow’ is possibly one of the best songs DEPECHE MODE never recorded. Can you remember what inspired that track?

‘Sorrow’ and actually the entire album reflects the emotional state we were at that time. ‘Sorrow’ was written on a really cloudy and moody day after we both had a really bad week. We actually made fun of the situation in the studio by trying to make a soundtrack for the “drama”. When we finished it, we thought that this track would be the perfect ending for ‘Lumineux Noir’.

Back in the other days, there was no way we would have written a song like that. But being in on electro / goth label, playing lives in Goths festivals and meeting people from the underground electro / EBM scene made it easier for us to add a song like that to our album. We don’t think that DEPECHE MODE would record a track like that now. Maybe it would have been a nice B-side to ‘Shake The Disease’ or ‘It’s Called A Heart’… that period just before ‘Black Celebration’ and after ‘Some Great Reward’.

marsheaux-backs1MARSHEAUX have often been compared with being a female DM and now in the US, there’s FEATHERS who have been called a female DEPECHE MODE too and they have a Greek girl fronting them. What do you think of their music?

We don’t think we are the female DM although it’s very flattering. Our sound is more like Vince Clarke’s. Greece is IN the last few years. Every day it is in the news, not for a good reason of course, but you can’t ignore her.

Also before FEATHERS, who we hope get the acknowledgment they deserve, there was Marina Diamandis or even Michael Angelakos from PASSION PIT… there is always a Greek somewhere. FEATHERS are really great, we like them a lot but the most female DEPECHE MODE track we heard though the last years was the 2013 Norway’s Eurovision entry by MARGARET BERGER; it was like an outtake song from ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’!

‘Inhale’ was a long time coming and in hindsight, seems less self-assured. How was the environment in Athens to work in and do you think it subconsciously affected the songs?

We tried hard to leave the problems of our country out of the studio, it was something really difficult because what is happening around affects us inevitably. Some of our lyrics like ‘End Is A New Start’ refer to it, but in no way it did affect our work. ‘Inhale’ was ready a year and a half before its release but it late came out late due to various problems that occurred. That’s why we released the ‘E-Bay Queen Is Dead’ compilation ahead of it. This turned out to be a positive move, because it gave ‘Inhale’ the chance to go global through various labels.

marsheaux 2013 photoThere some great songs on ‘Inhale’, ‘Can You Stop Me?’ and ‘Alone’ in particular which are on ‘Odyssey’. What are your favourites on ‘Inhale’?

Originally ‘Odyssey’ was never meant to have any ‘Inhale’ tracks. Later on, we thought it was better this way because someone could have a better picture of MARSHEAUX.

‘To The End’ and ‘August Day’ are our favourites, especially ‘August Day’.

The specially recorded new song ‘Full Attack’, where did that originate from and what’s it about?

We made ‘Full Attack’ especially for ‘Odyssey’, because James Nice of Les Disques Du Crépuscule asked us for a track that will be only on it. We didn’t want to use a rejected track from ‘Inhale’ (we have more than the ones on ‘E-Bay Queen Is Dead’…) so we started working on an idea we had and ‘Full Attack’ was ready in one night. ‘Full Attack’ is about people that use and manipulate others, and keep doing it till there is nothing left.

Are you generally happy with James Nice’s choice of tracklisting?

In general yes. At the beginning we thought it was strange, that there was a MARSHEAUX ‘Best Of’ without ‘Hanging On’ and ‘Breakthrough’. But as soon as he explained his thoughts, we understood. We think that James is the ideal person to collaborate. He is a music man and not a businessman. This is the problem today. Contrary to James, the companies see the artist as merchandise only. He wants his artist to be happy first, and then does the marketing.

TEC thinks it’s a shame ‘Radial Emotion’ is not featured. Are there any songs you would have liked to have been on ‘Odyssey’ that have missed inclusion?

This has also a positive side. It means we have a lot of great songs that didn’t make it to the compilation. We would have definitely put ‘Hanging On’ and ‘Breakthrough’ on as we said but also ‘So Far’, ‘Radial Emotion’ and ‘August Day’.

What do you think 2013 has been like for electronic music in general, what have you liked in particular?

We really liked CUT COPY’s new album, ‘English Electric’ by OMD was a pleasant surprise, AZURE BLUE’s second album was great and ‘Paracosm’ from WASHED OUT was our soundtrack of last summer. We must not forget CHVRCHES’ s debut of course, which had not even a mediocre song. But there were a lot of great tracks though with not many great albums.

Your collaboration on FOTONOVELA’s ‘A Ton Of Love’ album called ‘Close To Me’ is quite different to what MARSHEAUX have done before. Is that a sign of a future new direction?

The boys wanted SANDRA to sing the track but her management never replied to the request. We believe that if SANDRA sang ‘Close To Me’, it would have been a great hit. FOTONOVELA consider us a “sure thing” whenever they need something… demos etc, we are always there! *laughs*

Initially we thought that because they had a lot of guest artists, we wouldn’t collaborate. But at the last moment the track they did with JAY JAY JOHANSON didn’t make it to the LP and LACQUER didn’t catch the dead line, so there was this gap of two songs. For sure ‘Close To Me’ is not a sign for MARSHEAUX’s future.

What are MARSHEAUX’s future plans?

We are re-recording the whole of ‘A Broken Frame’ by DEPECHE MODE in order to release it for Record Store day 2014 on vinyl. This morning we finished ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’ and it sounds amazing. In September 2014, we are going to release a new edition of ‘Inhale’ called ‘Exhale’, with all the album tracks produced by different producers… one producer per track.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to MARSHEAUX

Special thanks also to James Nice and Undo Records

‘Odyssey’ is released by Les Disques Du Crépuscule on CD in a six panel digipack with a colour booklet

The tracklisting is:

best of MARSHEAUX1 m.a.r.s.h.e.a.u.x.
2 Flash Lights
3 Computer Love
4 Dream of a Disco
5 Home
6 Wait No More
7 Summer
8 Destroy Me
9 Faith
10 Sorrow
11 Ghost
12 Do You Feel?
13 Over and Over
14 Inhale
15 Alone
16 Can You Stop Me?
17 Full Attack
18 Cosmogirl
19 Popcorn

http://marsheaux.com

http://marsheaux.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/marsheaux

http://lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/odyssey_twi1151cd.html


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th February 2014